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Penis Health and Your Underwear: The Debate on Boxers Vs. Briefs

“Boxers or briefs?” The question has become almost a cliché, but it’s a decision men make all the time. There are plenty of reasons to choose one over the other, including one’s views on how each choice may or may not affect one’s penis health. Scientists have even gotten into the act over the years, and a new study reveals even more information to take into consideration when deciding on the daily underwear option.

The study

Entitled “Type of underwear worn and markers of testicular function among men attending a fertility center” and published in August, 2018 in the journal Human Reproduction, this new study is the largest one yet to look at how underwear choice might impact sperm production or quality in men. This cross-sectional study looked at 656 men, each of whom was a partner in a couple seeking to conceive a child who came to a fertility center for infertility treatment. The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

The authors state that “some epidemiological studies have investigated whether men who wear tighter underwear, a modifiable lifestyle factor strongly related to higher scrotal temperatures have poorer semen quality, compared to men who wear looser underwear,” but indicate that the results have been inconsistent. So the aim of this study is to help clarify whether underwear choice impacts markers of testicular function.


Semen and blood samples were collected from men between the ages of 18 and 65, with a median age of 35.5 years. The median BMI (body mass index) was 26.3 (compared to the average for US adult males of 26.6; a score between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, but not obese). 345 men reported that they frequently wore boxers, while 311 reported that they frequently wore briefs.

Interestingly, those men in the sample who were primarily boxer wearers tended to be younger and slimmer than those who were mostly briefs wearers. They also tended to be more likely to take hot baths or use a Jacuzzi. This information had to be factored into the results, as youth and less body weight tend to increase fertility while hot baths and Jacuzzis have an association with diminishing sperm quality.

When all the various factors were considered, the scientists came to several conclusions:

– Those who favored boxers had “significantly higher” sperm concentration and total sperm count.

– Those who preferred briefs registered higher serum FSH levels.

– There were no differences found in other markers, like serum reproductive hormones or DNA quality of the sperm.

What does this mean? Basically it means that, yes, wearing tight-fitting underwear like briefs does have a negative impact on sperm production, due to the fact that the testicles work better at sperm reproduction when they are cooler, and tightness is associated with higher temperatures. But the fact that brief-wearers also make more FSH is important, as it backs up a theory that the body responds to the lower sperm count by raising gonadotrophin (which is reflected in the higher FSH levels). Increasing gonadotrophin has a compensatory effect on the lower sperm production.

Sao, essentially, the study suggests that yes, briefs can affect the sperm production but that the raise in gonadotrophin helps to offset the decrease. However, further studies are needed to confirm this. Since the men studied were all at a fertility clinic, it is necessary to see if similar results occur among men in the general population.

Whatever a man’s underwear preference, he needs to take steps to maintain his penis health by regularly applying a superior penis health creme (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). Look for a crème with both L-arginine and vitamin C. L-arginine is an amino acid which helps boost nitric oxide, which thereby helps penile blood vessels expand more readily. And vitamin C is a key component of collagen, a tissue in the body that gives skin its tone and elasticity and is vital for penile erections.

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